By NIKOLE JAVIER
The Philippine women’s national football team cruised past Hong Kong, 4-0, to advance to the second round of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament Tuesday night, April 11, at the Hisor Central Stadium in Tajikistan.
The Filipinas only needed a draw over Hong Kong to move to the next phase, but still put up a massive performance right in the first half – thanks to Sarina Bolden – to complete a three-game sweep of the round.
Smart and quick, Bolden scored the team’s first two goals while Meryll Serrano and Quinley Quezada accounted for the two other goals as the Filipinas topped the opening round without yielding a goal.
After a 4-0 win over Pakistan in their opening affair, the Nationals were at their best in their game against Tajikistan with an 8-0 drubbing on April 8.
It didn’t take long for the Philippines to find its scoring touch as Bolden made her first goal in the 5th minute after several crisp passes that caught their defenders off-guard.
The Philippines remained aggressive in between the time of Bolden’s first goal until her second one, which came at the 41st minute from a Sara Eggesvik set-up she found inside the penalty arc.
They tripled their lead when Serrano converted off a set piece after Quezada was fouled near the box for the free kick.
In the 53rd minute, Quezada finally found the back of the neat after several failed bids.
This marked the first time the Philippines had a commanding win over Hong Kong, with their first meeting ending in a 1-1 draw in a friendly back in 2019, before the former one-upped the latter, 2-1, in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2021.
The Filipinas now seek to eclipse their best overall finish in the tournament where they suffered a second-round exit at the hands of the 37th-ranked Chinese-Taipei.
Only three group winners and the best second-placed team will make their way to the playoff round for a chance to claim one of the two tickets to the Olympiad.